Do you own a business already or want to someday? There are so many things you should consider before you embark on the adventure. If you have already started down the road, it’s not too late, because any time is a good time to try and improve. While there is no way to know EVERYTHING about running a business, here are some things I have learned along the way.
1. As a business owner, you are always “ON” even when you’re not around.
One thing I didn’t expect when I started the business is that there would never be a separation between myself and the business. My employees were now an extension of me even when I was nowhere near them and they were out on their own time. Things in their personal lives affect your business and can affect how others view your business. It can almost a guilty by association at times. Make sure that you are employing people who understand that they are always under scrutiny as well. How they behave in front of potential clients can be either helpful or harmful to your company’s image.
2. Don’t be afraid to fire people who aren’t right for your company.
If they are not/cannot/will not help you reach your goals as a business they don’t need to be there. This isn’t always a monetary thing, it could be how they participate with others in the group. Whether they are actually team players or not. Whether they help or hinder the culture you are trying to create. You can spend way too much time trying to mold someone into being your ideal employee, but if it’s not who they are naturally, it’s time to cut your losses.
3. Make sure you know your business’s numbers.
Make sure you know if you have a positive cash flow, if the business is actually profitable, and how to read financial statements. And, if you don’t, make sure you hire someone who can explain them to you in a way that makes sense. One of the worst mistakes you can make is not knowing what the numbers mean, or finding someone who can help you understand them. It could be the make or break of your company so don’t leave it to chance. Educate yourself.
4. Embrace change.
When I started my business almost 7 years ago, I had no idea how different it would look in the future. I definitely had the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it mentality”. That may be good for some things in life, but it’s definitely not a sustainable way to run your business. Change equals growth, and you have to always be looking to grow. Looking for ways to grow means you will never get stale and will always be at the forefront of clients minds. That should be the biggest goal in any business: always be the customers first thought. Always look for new opportunities to improve your business or bring more to the customer experience.
5. It’s never about YOU.
Everything you do in your business should be about your clients. What experience are they going to have when they interact with you. If you’re in a service based business like I am, you must carefully curate the experience from their point of view. What are the sights, sounds, smells, vibes they are getting when they are in your establishment? If you have an online based business, what is the visual flow like on your site? While it’s great to have your personal touch and style incorporated, make sure you are designing everything around the user experience.
6. You can’t do it alone, so stop trying.
At some point, you’ll have to realize and accept that you cannot do everything yourself. You can do a few things well but the more you add to your plate, the harder it is to maintain a high-level quality. Delegating is truly one of your best friends. If you’ve done your best to hire the right people, delegation should be an easy task. You already trust them to be a part of your business so why not let them help you grow it by giving them more responsibility. If you are like me and “need” to oversee everything, then baby steps are the best way to go. Starting with small tasks is a great way to test the waters before letting your team dive into bigger challenges.
7. You’re not always going to love it.
Business is hard. Don’t let anyone ever tell you any different. It won’t always be fun, it won’t always be easy and not everything will come to you naturally. You just have to dig in and keep going. This is where embracing change and continuing to look for ways to grow will help you. When I start to get “bored”, my enthusiasm fades and that’s when I know it’s time to try something new. As with anything, there will be situations that challenge you and make you question whether you want to continue on. Just remember that the challenges are only temporary. Tomorrow is another day and another opportunity to find what you love about your company and build upon that.
8. Not everyone is a natural leader and that’s ok.
This is one I struggled with and still continue to at times. Leadership. You don’t have to and most likely won’t be a perfect or even good leader straight out the gate. Putting that expectation on yourself won’t help either. Leadership is a learned skill that can be honed over time. The more you exercise the skills the better you get at it. Making sure to look at your business from your teams perspective is the cornerstone of great leadership. Getting out of your own mind and into the mindset of those around you is important because like I said before: it’s not about you. If you put in the time to learn and practice leadership skills, it will help understand your team. In time, you will grow and in turn lead them effectively.
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